Reinventing Definitions

In sixth grade I was placed in the honors program at my school. They called us gifted, but I believe it was more along the lines of showing boredom in the classroom so they wanted to push us harder. I appreciate that looking back as it ignited within me a deeper longing to discover more about who I was as a person.

One part of the honors curriculum was preparing to take the PSAT and learning 500 words and their definitions. These were SAT-level words which we had to know multiple definitions for, their correct spelling as well as their use in language. It was an arduous task but one that I thrived in completing. It’s in my genes, having a mother who transcribed for doctors for more than 45 years. I was fascinated with meanings and usages of words.

I learned through that process one word can have an array of meanings, especially in context and usage. For many of us we try to make one word define us entirely, putting us in a box or living into one conformed meaning. In reality our lives, who we are and what we are created to be requires multiple words that have complex definitions and applications.

I used to let the term SINGLE put me in a box. I used to let it define me by how others interpreted it, wrote on it, used it and applied it. Quickly I was living their definition of SINGLE and not my own. I let it tell me that being SINGLE meant I was constantly kept from enjoying life. That I was to commit to long hours at my job. That I was to pine away and be okay with missing out on things because of my marital status.

Screen-Shot-2013-09-17-at-9.38.14-PM-576x284My marital status does not define me. Not solely. It is in fact way down on the descriptors of who I am, what I am, the person I am living into and desire to be. There’s been a dramatic shift in my perceptions and my living when I stopped allowing others define me (in so many ways beyond just the one I am touching on here). Most importantly I realized that SINGLE isn’t a means of defiance on relationships, nor is it a stigma to be attached to a person, nor is it a binding agent segregating a population of individuals to be “lesser than” others who are not SINGLE.

For me when I now mark SINGLE in boxes the definition is more in tune with the verb form use of the word for me: choosing someone from a group for special treatment. It is not a definition of me. Of the person I am. It is an action. Because for me, and what I hope is true for you too, is that we stop being defined and start defining. We put action to our lives, to our words, to our hearts. We reinvent the definitions that have locked us in, kept us out, or shamed us into a box.

May we start living out what we desire for our lives, what we were created to be…only then can we decide what words define us.

We’ve All Got Bruises.

People will say what they will. Don’t let those words define you.

I’ll be honest. I struggle with that. I mean strug-gle. People wield words like swords to cut and wound. It is astounding to see that in my 30s. From people of all ages. Older. Younger.

Am I guilty of it too? YES.

Does it absolutely suck to admit that? To reflect that I have bought into that cycle too? Absolutely.

I had to admit it to myself though first. To admit I have used words, the gift of my words that has been given me to wound others. I believed them true. In my hurt and in my pain. I had a lot of bruises. I wanted nothing more to talk about them. To point at them and tell you how they came to be.

Recently I have learned of some words that were spoken of me, by someone I held respect for. I immediately wanted to react. I felt myself rising up with such anger and frustration that this person would take liberties with my character the way they did. Then I remembered that wasn’t the response I wanted to have. Deep down I wanted to stop, remember those words don’t define me until I choose to live into them. So I decided right then the bruise may be there, but I didn’t have to inflict the next one.

I also didn’t have to wear it as a badge of honor. I can heal, forgive and learn from it. It’s a choice I think we all have to make in life. In confronting the tension in what others say about us and whether we choose to live into that or not. Choosing to believe the ugly that others project onto us will only make their perception our truth.

What would it look like if we…if I chose to not buy into their words and instead lived out what I am called to be? A servant and lover of others.

Am I serving through my words?

Am I loving others with my words?

Those are the two questions I am asking myself each time. Each morning. In the tense moments. In the moments I want to wound back. In the times I get hurt.

I am a work in progress. As are each one of us. I think we need to remember that a bit more in our lives and our interactions and with our words. I think I need to remember that most of all. If that lesson and this thought adjustment had to come from that bruise, then I am glad for it. What that individual meant for harm, God meant for good.

That’s not something I remember at the time, but I am beginning to…and beginnings are good.

 

Sharing Sunday #3

Photo property of Sara Stacy. Do not copy or use without permission.
Photo property of Sara Stacy. Do not copy or use without permission.

May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, OLord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Psalm 19:14

Today I share this, as you start your day (or end your day…) as a prayer for myself as well. Our words are a reflection of what our heart meditates on. So today, as you rest, as you worship, as you fellowship, and as you go through your day carry this with you.

Is your heart meditating on those things pleasing to God? Are your words worthy of His sight?

Let Your Words Be Life…

It’s Wednesday…it feels like it should be Saturday. I woke up and could not really take that it was only Wednesday. This week has already been very draining, and I know for certain I am not the only one feeling that drain. The weather is the redeeming factor thus far. It’s given me an extra pep in my step to get out the door and to get back in the door each night.

Currently, I know of people struggling through a serious injury that happened over the weekend, children being in NICU and in the pediatric units in hospitals, of friends standing alongside their loved ones as they grieve the loss of a wonderful woman, and those wondering if they will ever find a job. Right now life just seems to be forcing itself onto us with unhappy gains. I had a dear friend and mentor just this morning post about her mother in law having a severe heart attack…as they sit in Germany as foreign missionaries. There is so much hurt, grief, and fear in so many lives right now. I ache for those individuals

And then there are those who willingly inflict undue hurt onto others. As if this world needed more ugliness and strife. Those who use venomous words to lob insults at people and create a haze of grime to cloud people’s days. I keep coming back to Proverbs with the thought that our words have such power to either encourage joy or inflict pain. While we say actions speak louder than words, people’s words reflect their character. It’s a two-for-one deal. What you say and what you do go hand-in-hand. Your character matters, and so do your words.

You can impart life or death with your words. You have the responsibility with them. Choose wisely.

There is one who speaks like the piercings of a sword, but the tongue of the wise promotes health. 

Proverbs 12:18 (HCSB)

Do you create or reduce hurt with your words? What are ways in which you can encourage instead of inflict? A writer friend, Annie Downs, has a new book out called Speak Love that talks directly to using words that matter.

That’s the Power of Words.

I had an encounter recently where I was sporting a rather negative attitude, about nothing in particular, and not towards anyone in particular. As I continued to talk and fester, I sat with astonishment at my words. It was like I couldn’t help myself and continued to slather on some negativity.

Photo courtesy of cuindependent.com
Photo courtesy of cuindependent.com

Over and over I see it in every day life, whether it’s in conversations, interactions, emails or social media…and I am guilty of it too. We don’t consider our words and the impact they have. I wrote at Single Roots the assumptions made about single life in the workplace, but it started with words. It started with the words not fully considered when said.

We say things in jest, for either venting or vengefulness…from a state of irritation or anger. The words though echo throughout life, and not necessarily the life of the person who said them. It builds a legacy of you…what you say in life. What you breathe into the lives of others. Do you want that life to be one of peace, joy, and happiness? Or do you want it to be one of burden, negativity, and destructiveness?

There’s enough bullies in the world. There’s enough trolls and bitter people spouting ugliness and junk at us. Shouldn’t we be focused on speaking joy and love into others’ lives? You have the choice what you say today. Speak words of wisdom and love, not deceit and bitterness. Speak from where your heart resides, and not where the devil tells you that you are heading.

 

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. 

Ephesians 4:29 (ESV)

Find You In the Place I’m In

As I sit I am watching the morning sky come alive with the sun. I see the hope of a new day, of new mercies that can only come from God. I am watching Him breathe life and hope into this day. That is something the last few weeks has been hard to see.

Photo property of Sara Stacy
Photo property of Sara Stacy

I have found myself in this place of ugliness. Of stooping to the level of pettiness and spitefulness just like the individual who was the main source of strife for several months. I had honestly contemplated this morning posting up all the evidence of what this person has done and said all in name of justice and truth. I wanted to prove my rightness and finger point.

However seeing rather haphazardly these verses caused me to stop and reconsider my ways, my attitude.

Incline my hear to Your testimonies, and not to covetousness. Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things, and revive me in Your way.    Psalms 119:36-37

I realized that I had been inclining myself to the words of the devil, to the lies and brokenness that the devil uses. It was making me an ugly, bitter person. A person who in all honesty was weary from the battle. A battle that is not mine to wage.

Instead of seeking my own brand of justice, I am choosing to lift my eyes to the One who created me and revel in Him. I am turning my mind to His Word instead of the devil. God’s way leads to life, an abundant one at that and why would I forsake that for some words on a screen or in my inbox?

I found God in the place I am in, as He always is. I found Him when I turned my eyes from others words and dug into His. Because each day I can be filled with the hope, love and mercy that He erupts forth with, or I can reflect the ugliness of the words the devil attacks with. I pray today you dwell in His truth and not someone else’s, that you choose God over the devil and you find a comfort and peace in where He’s meeting you. In the place you are in. Wherever that may be.

I am sharing this video today as it’s been a dwelling place of my heart for the last few weeks.

How A Fifth Grade Boy’s Words Still Harm.

photo(1)That’s me, in fifth grade, at honors day. The day marked the end of being in elementary school and the start of big, bad middle school. This photo is in my scrapbook from my school years, and I put it there. But this photo doesn’t hold a good memory of that day for me. In fact, it brings back a flood of emotion as I look at it. Not because of the white tights and white shoes worn in May, we’ll leave that alone for now. Or the incredibly large headband that can be seen from at least 20 feet away…because really?! 

No, the reason why this photo is hard to look at and remember that time is because as I got to the end of that stage I burst into tears and ran to the bathroom. Moments before as my name was called for academic achievement award, the boy who was sitting in front of me at the assembly made a remark to me about how I looked and that it was only fitting I would get an academic honor since I was fat and ugly. This boy wasn’t a necessarily mean boy to me in the past, we weren’t exactly friends either…but he said it with such disgust and meanness that it stuck.

Twenty years later and those words still sting.

His words, however flippant a 12 year old is in what they say, stuck. They stuck so much that they formed my self-confidence in all things (or lack thereof to be honest) for the greatest part of my life. In fact, I still struggle moment by moment with self-confidence. I question relationships, friendships, projects, writing, and even who I am in Christ because of those words.

Why do I give them meaning? Why do I allow them to have context and power in my life?

This is what I have been praying and dwelling on the last few days as I face those words head-on. As I face that 12 year old boy sitting at the table in front of me.

No one has the right to tell you that you aren’t significant. NO ONE. God breathes truth into you that you are significant to Him. You matter to Him. Why then am I allowing, choosing even, to let someone else tell me different? When I give power to others, I am essentially telling God He’s not enough for me. His truth doesn’t fit with my belief and I shrug Him off. Even as I typed that, it looked ridiculous, because I would never say that to God…but I am when I let those words put context into my life, in my actions, in my heart.

The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.- Zephaniah 3:17